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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50231313
  • Date: 16 February 2009
  • Public Authority: Cabinet Office
  • Summary: The complainant wrote to the Cabinet Office to request various pieces of information relating to the review by Richard Thomas and Dr Mark Walport on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors. The Cabinet Office informed the complainant the requested information was exempt from disclosure under section 35 of the Act (Formulation of Government Policy) but that it needed extra time to consider where the balance of the public interest lies in this case. Seven months after submitting her request, the complainant had still not received a substantive response and complained to the Commissioner about the Cabinet Office’s handling of her request. The Commissioner has found that the Cabinet Office breached section 17 of the Act, in particular section 17(3), as it failed to complete its public interest determination within a reasonable timescale, and has still not done so. The Cabinet Office also breached section 10(1) of the Act as it took longer than 20 working days to confirm whether information falling within the scope of the request was held. The Commissioner requires the Cabinet Office to issue a notice compliant with sections 17(1) & (3) that states why the exemption under section 35 is engaged, and its conclusion about where the balance of the public interest lies. If the Cabinet Office concludes that the balance of the public interest favours disclosing the information or no longer considers the exemption to apply, the Commissioner requires it to provide the information to the complainant. The Cabinet Office must take the steps required by this notice within 35 calendar days of the date of this notice.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]